Shares of Sea Ltd., a Singapore-based technology company, fell more than 18% on Feb. 14 after India banned 54 gaming apps, including Sea’s popular game Free Fire.
While Sea is located in Singapore, its American Certificates of Deposit (ADR) are listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Although it is the most valuable company in the city-state due to its hugely popular games, it also runs the online shopping platform Shopee and the online payment app SeaMoney.
India’s ban was due to “elements hostile to the sovereignty and integrity of India and activities detrimental to national security”, according to a government source quoted by The Hindu. India has banned 321 apps for similar reasons.
India’s concerns appear to be well founded.
Sea’s founders are native Chinese who were educated in Singapore and the United States; the company’s seed capital came from Tencent, one of several Chinese companies that Indian intelligence has identified as having alleged ties to China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
US intelligence agencies seem to agree.
According to the Financial Times, in early 2021, the State Department and the Pentagon under President Donald Trump (during his final weeks in office) both wanted to blacklist Tencent and other app companies. of American investors who would have prohibited Americans from owning shares. the company.
But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, who fought together against Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, an investment banker, resulted in the exclusion of Tencent and others from the list. The Financial Times quoted a former US National Security Council official as saying that removing what he called “the big 3” (Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu) risked being seen as the interests of investors taking the step on national security.
And clearly, American investors are still interested in Sea, despite national security concerns and India’s ban. Fund manager Cathie Woods of Ark Investments, which invests in “innovative disruption”, reportedly acquired 145,000 shares after India banned Sea apps.
It takes time for society to adapt to the kind of innovative disruption that is Woods’ forte. When such innovative disruptions have cruel or catastrophic consequences – as, for example, when innovation enabled the armies of World War I to resort to the appalling use of mustard gas and other poisonous gases on their enemies – thoughtful world leaders of good will banded together under the Geneva Convention and defined rules and standards that banned poison gas in times of war. That was nearly a century ago.
Today, we are about to see such “cruel or catastrophic consequences” in the field of cyber warfare. Recognizing this, a small group of governments and non-governmental organizations established the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace at the Munich Security Conference.
But this small step is hardly enough. Governments and technology companies must expand these efforts quickly and comprehensively, to avoid, for example, a cyber attack on a nuclear reactor or the disabling of civilian air traffic control radars in mid-flight.
But as these movements grow and hopefully become an accepted international standard for protecting cyberspace, those forming them must also insist that apps and app stores be included.
App downloads must have something akin to the Underwriters Laboratories seal of approval, with their ubiquitous “UL” logo, which we see on virtually all electrical products. Such independent international third-party verification would ensure that an application is safe, data servers are protected from government intrusion and information about their location. Before downloading, consumers should be presented with a menu of options so they can select the level of personal information they share with the app, which parts they want to use, etc.
The independent insurance agency – perhaps part of the World Trade Organization or the United Nations?
We are years away from realizing all of this, of course. In the meantime, caveat emptor. And beware of any app with ties to China as long as that country is enslaved to the global criminal enterprise the world knows as the Chinese Communist Party.
The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Epoch Times.